Celebrating Lee’s Birthday

It is the afternoon of September 12, 2021, when I find myself mind traveling to East Walpole, Massachusetts to surprise my second son on his forty second birthday. It is a bright sunny day with tones of fall in the air. There is a spattering of different shaped and colored leaves being softly nudged off their branches with the help of a five miles per hour westerly breeze.

Frankie is playing out back and foils my surprise by yelling, “it’s nonno,” upon seeing me. I’m surprised that he recognizes me. Heck, I only get to see him once or twice a year. Lee, Kelly and Mila come out to greet me. After a brief tour of their newly purchased house, which is more spacious in many ways from their previous home, we settle down to watch the Patriots – Dolphin’s game. It feels good being with my son’s family on a Sunday afternoon, something that I sorely miss – being over 300 miles away. I sit back sipping a beer with one eye on the game and the other on the two little ones who are playing with some toy dinosaurs and a doll around our feet.

From the kitchen, Kelly prods Frankie to tell me about his new school. He tells me that he goes to the same school as his cousin. Mila sees Frankie talking to me and she babbles something incoherent to me. I look over and see my son proudly smiling at the interaction of his daughter and nonno. She continues to watch me with that innocent childish curiosity. I think of how blessed my son is to have a boy and a girl. Looking back at the family dynamics the tendency has been families made up of all boys or all girls.

The Patriots finally score their first touchdown of the Mac Jones era, and the cheers get Frankie’s attention who turns to his dad to ask what happened. He’s told to watch the replay. After seeing it he jumps and cheers along. Seeing this reminds me of the days when I would sit with my three sons watching Boston sports teams compete. My how time has flown.

The game is frustratingly dull, yet the score is very close. It goes down to the wire with sadly the Patriots losing to the Dolphins by one point. Years back the loss would have put a damper to the rest of the day but now maybe because of the distance the loss is meaningless especially when I get to enjoy this day with family.

The Warren family arrives with balloons and cake for my son. I get to spend some time catching up with Kelly’s side of the family, the ones that provide help and support for them. I thank God for them. I’m glad that Frankie and Mila have grandparents that live close by and see on a regular basis.

All in all, it was a wonderful day even if I experienced it all in my mind. As I cherished the thoughts, I am reminded of the message in today’s Gospel of denying oneself, picking up the cross and following Jesus.


Fifteen Minutes with Jesus

I went to visit Jesus today at the adoration chapel named after his grandmother, St. Anne, whose feast day is fast approaching (July 26). I was glad that I went because there was no one there. It was bad enough to hear the account of Jesus’ disciples falling asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, but seeing the place empty caused a sadness to fall over me. This feeling was short-lived as Jesus had me look around to remind me that He was in the good company of the Holy Family. Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph were behind on either side and in a corner was St. Anne. The quietness was briefly interrupted by the noise of someone manicuring the grass outside. After this initial interlude of sadness and noise I settled in mentally to start my visit with the Lord.

Of the many visits I have made over the years, one would think that I would have some sort of routine down pat by now. But that isn’t so. It seems that no two visits are the same. I’ve come at times with a lot on my heart where I’ve done a lot of the talking and there have been times when I came and just sat and tried to listen. I found that being still and listening is the harder of the two – heck, there have been a few times where I have even dozed off just like the disciples.

I’ve tried many things such as praying the rosary, reading scripture or a book on the life of a saint. I’ve even spent a span of time when I would write what was on my mind in a journal while visiting Jesus. Even though I would often leave feeling more at peace I was still looking for that moment such as Moses hearing God in the burning bush. I had created a certain expectation in my relationship with God and since this wasn’t being met, according to my human mind, I felt that I was doing something wrong.

A few years ago I came across a book, Manual for Eucharistic Adoration, and feeling that I needed some help, I bought it. Most times I take it with me although at times it feels like it is taking me along because of what it has revealed. I have never read this book of 220 pages cover to cover, but I have opened it to different places and have been surprised by what I’ve read at random. It truly seems that the Lord is choosing the selections because I couldn’t or wouldn’t have chosen any better.

Being a Secular Franciscan, I recently found starting on page 93 a section titled, Adoring Jesus Christ with St. Francis, immediately followed by St. Clare, Seraphic Lover of the Blessed Sacrament. These have been the pages I go to often unless guided differently.

Today was one of those different days. On page 133, I discovered a section headed, Fifteen Minutes in the Company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It started out with, “My child, you need not know much in order to please Me.

Wow! I thought. He’s speaking to me. I continued reading.

“Only love me dearly. Speak to Me simply, as you would talk to your mother, if she had taken you in her arms.” These words had really captured my attention and melted any concerns or worries I had when I came in.

They jumped off the page when next I read; “Have you no one to recommend to Me?”

Oh, do I, Lord! Where do I start?

I started with my children and grandchildren, however, just in case I had no one in mind He had me tell Him the names of my relations. It turned out that this was no different than having a conversation with a very intimate friend.

The Lord kept asking questions and providing even many suggestions just to jar my memory. He had a way of putting me at ease. I immediately thought of the passage that said, “Before you were born I knew every hair on your head.”

At the end of the fourth page I was being dismissed with the instruction to, “Love My mother, who is also your mother, the Blessed Virgin, and return again tomorrow, bringing Me a heart even more devoted and loving. Tomorrow I shall have new favors for you. In My heart, you will always find new love, new benefits, new comforts.”

These words which I soon found out, attributed to St. Anthony Mary Claret, were exactly what I needed to read today. I turned to one of St. Francis’ prayers for Adoration; “You are holy, Lord, the only God, You do wonders.” (Psalm 76:15)

Are You Wasting Your Leftovers?

To answer this question, we need to look at the readings from the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 25, 2021). In both the first reading (2 Kings 4:42- 44) and the Gospel (John 6: 1-15) we have different people assessing a situation where there is a scarcity of resources. Although the numbers to be fed vary greatly – 100 in the first reading versus 5000 plus in the Gospel – the results come about strictly in relying on God’s abundance. This abundance creates leftovers but before we address that let us look at how each person tries to deal with this situation.

In the first reading the servant objects at Elisha’s instruction to give the twenty barley loaves and fresh grain in the ear to the people to eat. He responds, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” He makes a mathematical evaluation and sees the scarcity of resources. Elisha, the man of God, insists saying, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” His faith and reliance are on God. The servant did as he was told and the reading ends with, “And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.” (2 Kgs 4:44)

In the Gospel, Jesus sees a large crowd coming to Him. He asks Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip seems to be overwhelmed by how much it would cost to meagerly feed the crowd. Another disciple, Andrew, finds a boy in the crowd who has five barley loaves and two fish but again just like the servant of the first reading he looks at the scarcity of resources and says, “but what good are these for so many?”

The responses and reactions we have read of so far begs to ask ourselves, how do we see the world? Do we only see the scarcity or the Divine abundance? Do we make God part of the solution? Do we pray?

“Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them.” They also had as much fish as they wanted. When they had their fill, Jesus told the disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”  

The leftovers

Leftovers brought to memory the meals I would have with family, especially when my mom was alive, where I would not only be filled but I was sent home with leftovers. Do you know that some Italian dishes such as lasagna and eggplant parmesan are better the next day, when all the ingredients have had a chance to rest and form that perfect marriage between the pasta, cheeses, sauce and herbs.?

There were twelve baskets of leftovers in John’s Gospel, one for each of the twelve disciples. There are always leftovers when we get fed from God, especially at Mass. We have the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist. We are fed and leave the church filled by the Eucharist and we are to bring that excess to others we meet. Our sharing of what God has done in our lives with others is like sharing a piece of yesterday’s lasagna. It is all done out of God’s abundance and love for every one of us. Please do not waste the leftovers.

The Lord ALWAYS Makes Himself Present

Gaeta, Italy 9/24

After a morning of some extensive walking for one who has neuropathy of the feet I find myself resting in bed contemplating the time to leave the hotel to experience the gastronomical festival held In Via Indipendenza called Vie di Gaeta. My mind is willing but my legs are hurting. I decide to go but a little bit later than originally planned.

When I start to prepare myself I encounter a setback; my hemorrhoid which has been pleasantly quiet decides to inject his opinion on the matter by proceeding to bleed.I guess someone doesn’t want me to go.Over time my mind tries to convince me to stay but my voice of reason presents the defense by introducing the stark fact that unless I want to eat in the hotel one still has to venture out to purchase something for supper.

The defense wins, aided by the fact that the bleeding has stopped. As an aid to my legs I decide to put on some support hose. Slowly I dress myself and lock passport and a few other valuables in the safe. I also take a little extra money just in case it is needed. My legs rebel saying, “Do we have to do this again?” I push on at a slow clip as I immediately face the challenge of getting by the hilly part of my walk which starts just a few steps from the Mirasole hotel. This is a real wake up call for my sore legs who are now pleading that I turn back. I keep trudging along until I now find myself on the other side of the incline. In the park I can see that many more people are out tonight than in previous nights since I’ve been here. As I reach the midpoint of the piazza I hear singing in the same area as the night before. This time my curiosity is peaked enough for me to meander over and look. 

There is a crowd between 300 – 400 people, some seated in folding chairs others on the numerous steps leading to a school and many others standing. There is what appears to be an altar in front of an elongated camouflaged igloo shaped but. Right next to the altar are four or five men, four with guitars and another standing in front of a keyboard. They are providing the background music to someone dressed in a suit who is addressing the crowd much in the fashion of those televangelists that I’ve seen back home.He is praying to Jesus to help us to stop the division that’s in the world, in families among brothers and sisters. My thoughts immediately jump to my cousins and wish that they were here to hear this prayer. He is connecting with people  in the crowd: some are raising their hands toward the sky, an elderly man holds on to a woman next to him as he wants to genuflect but cannot do it on his own, and a woman in front me proceeds to kneel on the pavement. At one point a scattered applause is heard in the crowd. 

I was a little confused as to what I was witnessing. At first glance I thought it to be some Church of All Nation thing but I spotted what surely looked to me like two priests, one in the crowd and the other seated to the right of the musicians. I was holding my cell phone right near my stomach as I tried to capture some of this on film when all of a sudden I was told that I had run out of memory. As I tried to see if I could free up some space on the phone I lost track on what was going. I was disappointed that I couldn’t come up with a quick fix. I then tried using my camera but I couldn’t get it to record. When I was through fumbling with my gadgets I looked up and found that a priest had made his way in front of me.

With the musicians still providing the background music an instruction was heard for all to join hands in prayer. As I still tried to figure out if I was getting involved in something that I shouldn’t three or four people joined hands right in front of me. One man gave me a quick glance but never offered his hand so I just stood my ground getting ready to witness what was about to happen. Then the priest looked back and broke the chain that had been formed and gave me his hand while at the same time I joined hands with the man on my left.After the prayer the priest who had been sitting took a monstrance into the crowd to bless people. Reverence was demonstrated as many either bowed or went to their knees. Still not certain if this was a Catholic ceremony I decided to continue to my destination, Via Indipendenza.

Just a short walk away it seemed like a tale of two cities. I left what seemed to be a very spiritual gathering and was heading toward a spirituality of another type – one that is attached to worldly things. Why weren’t more people back there, I wondered.

Corso Cavour was hopping. Cars and other motorizedwere buzzing around like mosquitos. The whole town it seemed had taken to the streets. There seemed to be this subtle understanding that exists between pedestrians and drivers as they vied for that precious piece of real estate known as the street whose name originates from Late Latin strata via which means paved way. I follow the locals as they cross at a the crosswalk and soon find d myself at the beginning of Via Indipendenza.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I cannot start my day

Without thinking of you.

With my first breath I thank you Lord

For being there in everything I’ll do


I’m grateful for the four walls that shelter me

The roof above my head,

The water that I clean myself with,

And the nourishment received from your daily bread.


Today I’m thankful for the sun that shines,

The little bird who chirps so loud.

You seem to know all of what you created needs

I even welcome the refreshing rain from the puffy cloud.


You have been so good to me;

Many times I’ve taken things for granted

Forgive me Lord, for those times I’ve gone astray,

You made sure that I didn’t remain stranded.


The Psalmist had it oh so right when he wrote;

“His love and mercy endures forever.”

I’ll never match the love you have for me,

But with praise and gladness in my heart I will endeavor.




I asked the home room teacher for a pass

To get out of my phys-ed class

With hopes of meeting my Yorkshire lass

Who shared my musical taste for bluegrass


I made my way via an underpass

To avoid a section of landmass

Which caused someone to yell, “Hey jackals,

Didn’t you see the sign, Do Not Trespass?”


He was sporting  a monocle,  one eyeglass

That made me feel a bit subclass

With his morass of negativity

All because I had walked on some grass.


Just because he sported plenty of brass

Wasn’t cause for continuing to harass

Me with his crass misrepresentation of facts

Would my afternoon be spoiled by some crabgrass?


The only way out of this ticklish impasse

A thought came to mind, alas!

I will offer a glass of sassafras

And then ask him to forgive my trespass.

Advent 2015

Waiting with hope
Sometimes I need a rope
To climb out of the pit
That materialism tends to knit

My intentions are good
But the devil tempts me with “I should…”
You fill in the blank
That leads to the perilous plank

Have I gone too far?
Have I crossed the proverbial bar?
I can now feel the stress
Hope has been replaced by anxiousness


There’s a feeling of emptiness
” Oh, how did I get into this mess?”
This Advent was to be simplified
Meditation time was to be multiplied

“There still is time it’s only the twenty third,”
The message coming from  a little bird
“Oh, come Emmanuel,” I pray
I spend some time with a lonely man this day

Memories of You

Yesterday I found myself on a road driving south

And a landmark made me think of you.

I then thought of how in just a short time

I’ve built some nice memories of you.


Another landmark made me think of the comment you made

About how unobserving I was – and I started to laugh.

This just added to the feeling that I was not driving alone

But that you were there with me.


Since the day I drove you to Cape Cod,

I’ve had the urge to return there again.

I know how you said you liked being there,

So I went there for you, hoping to catch

That wonderful feeling I had just exploring with you.


You said you liked lighthouses

And I decided to find one.

And even though the day was cloudy,

Thinking of you made it sunny.


I used to have only memories from your neck of the woods,

But since you came to visit I now have reminders

Of when you were here.

I only have to travel a mile to see the places

Where we had breakfast and dinner,

And they too bring back good memories of the sweet you.


I don’t have to go far to be reminded of you.

I just have to turn my computer on

And I find some pictures that I took of you.

In the darkness of the subway station

Your smile brought brightness.


One look at that smile

And it has me immediately smiling back.

It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that

No matter where I turn I can feel you near.

I love the memories of you.